Well, the saddle is back at the Side Saddlery today, and I admit I miss her. She is a lovely saddle, and such a perfect fit for me. Some tall curvy lady out there is going to have a really really nice saddle. Unfortunately, the verdict was that it just wasn't going to fit Mr W. Grey. We gave it a thorough analysis. I sent photos to Linda and she and I discussed some options. She suggested I also consult with Sue Tobin from Side Saddle Heaven. After much debate, I made the hard decision to return this saddle and keep on looking.
As part of my decision making process, I made a measured tracing of this tree. Unlike my Martin and Martin, the tree of the Mayhew is easily visible between the padding and the safe.
I have highlighted it here in red.
First I pressed my wither tracing against it to see how the curves match. That is difficult to show in a photo, but easy in this case in real life. The near side point seemed to overlap the cutout in a bad way. Particularly the last inch. This is supported with what I felt when running my hand along the front, and down around the point while mounted.
|Snug, but not bad here|
|Uncomfortably snug, and going down around the point was unconfortable even to knuckles.|
I decided to try my hand at Sue's method of overlapping tracings. Armed with a 36" wire, a measuring tape, a cloth tape, a good deal of patience, and a little artistic talent, I made what I felt to be an accurate representation of the shape of the tree. Then I superimposed my wither tracing onto it.
I played with it for awhile, sliding it about
I measured and placed the Dees on the tracing, then consulted photographs to determine where William's withers sat in relation to the dees. I measured and marked the 8 inches between the dees, and the 17" point to point measurement. I tried to find the center of both the tree and the horse (within a range) and I traced the horse into the tree. This tracing is, I believe, a fair representation of the near side point in relation to his side. You can see when the tree sets down with weight on it, it presses into his side. The padding of the point is not shown here, and the line of the horse undoubtedly accounts for the fat layer over his ribs. Granted, the flocking and the pudge are moldable to an extent, and this line drawing does not take into account the ample flocking on the off side which raises the saddle, but by comparing this line drawing what is actually happening on the horse, it does help you understand what is going on under there.
I also brought the 4 foot level to the barn. While the saddle appeared to sit more level than this, (and when mounted, my weight did set the front of the saddle down further) you can see here that this saddle sat more uphill on him than my Martin and Martin did.
In the end, after consulting with both Linda and Sue, and sleeping on it, I decided to let this saddle go. Yes, the fit probably could have been improved with adjustments to the flocking by a skilled fitter. Yes, there is something to be said for finding the perfect match for your own figure and hoping to find a horse to fit under you. But, this is the horse I have now, and I would have had to make the basic adjustments to the flocking myself.
The right saddle for us is out there somewhere. The treasure hunt continues.